At the beginning of the last century, Madeira was known for the brandy island. Excessive consumption of this drink becomes a social problem. In 1927, 34 sugarcane plantations were closed, production decreased and their commercialization was controlled. Alternatively, the people clandestinely began to produce their own brandy from the dregs of wine, an activity severely punished by the authorities. From the North to the South of the Island, illicit transport began, covering 25 km with about 50 liters on their backs and, despite several arrests, the activity lasted roughly 50 years along tracks that became known as the route of smuggling.
What is intended?
Given the historical importance of the events that took place, within the scope of the Festival Aqui Acolá 2016 - Ponta do Sol, a work of investigation and data collection was started that allowed, from the outset, the schematization of a historical reproduction through a documentary. From the interviews carried out, it was possible to glimpse the risk and the courage of a people who, with 'art and ingenuity', managed to overcome the adversities that were imposed. In fact, there is not a single route, but several "Routes of Contraband" in order to deceive the authorities who, faced with such a feat, saw their mission made difficult.
In view of the above, it was decided to reproduce and experience, according to the data collected, some of the routes used to smuggle wine lees brandy. To this end, on March 11 and November 18, 2017, RETOIÇA - Cultural, Sports and Recreation Association, in partnership with the Municipality of Ponta do Sol and the Camping and Mountaineering Federation of Portugal, started a Cycle of Hiking dedicated exclusively to the Smuggling Route(s).
The name "Rota do Contraband" and all its involvement came from the multiple stories that Rui Nélson (Retoiça member) had been collecting from people who experienced in the first person (and not only) the dangerous and arduous vicissitude of the brandy cycle contraband. From there, the interest of film director Eduardo Costa (associate Retoiça) in the "argument" was a small step. Given the substance and historical plot of a cycle understood as illegal that ranged from ingenious distillation to its clandestine commercialization, the aforementioned participants decided to present to the Aqui Acolá 2016 Festival Committee a proposal for a cinematographic reproduction, in documentary form, of these facts historical records unknown to the general public. The enthusiasm was immediate and shared by the entire committee, thus giving its consent to the production and production of the aforementioned documentary, under the seal of Eduardo Costa Produções, and presentation during the II Festival Aqui Acolá edition, more specifically on the 7th of May 2016.
The 4 sessions held within the scope of the Festival Aqui Acolá were sold out and the critics were extremely favorable, as such, it was decided to replicate the screening of the documentary, in that same year, all over the island. One of these exhibitions took place at the Baltazar Dias Municipal Theater on June 24, 2016, with a sold out room.
Later, this documentary was selected to appear in the mythical Cannes Film Festival in 2017, in the category of "Court métrage - Short film corner". Also during 2017, the same documentary won in the category of "Documentary Short Film" at Figueira Film Art 2017, Figueira da Foz Film Festival.
The principle of investing in documentary, as in walking, was based on the premise of making the Festival Aqui Acolá an "all-year-round" festival, ensuring that it did not exhaust itself with each edition.